5 Ways Avoid Weight Gain in College Transition YOUniversity

Gaining weight in college is the new normal. The “Freshman 15” used to be a joke, but today it is no joke. The freshman 15 has turned into the sophomore 20, junior 30 and senior 40. According to Health.com 70% of students experience weight gain in college. And I am going to guess that is not all muscle (or bones). 


Weight gain in college is not something that should be accepted. Our bodies gain weight because of the foods that we are putting in our bodies and of lack of exercise. Stress also plays a significant role in the way our bodies are able to regulate. 


  1. Avoid sugar and flourThis is the hardest one so I thought we could start here. These two things wreck your health. They are both inflammatory foods that leave your body feeling fatigued and your mind wanting more. They are addictive. That is why it’s often hard to just have one cookie or why you crave certain foods with these two products. According to WebMD “research shows that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more -- and be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes -- than those who don’t. One study even found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than 2 months.” There is no question that sugar and flour cause weight gain and are also preventing you from feeling your best. 

DO THIS: Think vegetables and meat when you are planning your meals. If you can fill your plate or smoothies, with mostly veggies you are headed down the right path. Having a salad with every meal and eating it first will be a healthy start. Just do not load that salad with sugary dressings and toppings. You also want to have carbs, but they need to be healthy carbs like sweet potatoes or long grain wild rice.  


  1. SleepCollege students do not sleep. It is not a secret. You stay up late socializing and have to be up early for that 8am lab. When your body is tired it cannot recharge. When you are tired is when you reach for that sugary coffee and pastry. When your are tired your willpower is weak. Try to get 8 hours. You may be thinking that you do not have to sleep that much, but I promise you that there is time. According to health expert JJ Virgin, “You should aim for seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep every night to reduce hunger hormones and boost your fat-burning human growth hormone (HGH).” Sleep to lose weight? Count me in! 

DO THIS: Establish a sleep schedule. This is hard for college students, but you can do it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning and night. You have to train yourself to do this and it might take a while. I promise, if you are up at 5 or 6 every morning and you are working the schedule we talked about here, then you are going to be ready to go to bed at 10. 

  1. ExerciseFind some kind of physical activity to do every day. Take an hour and go for a walk. Do an intense 20 minute workout (recommended). Join a team that has practices and games. Do you want to know what the best workout is that you can do? It is the workout that you will actually do. Running, swimming, hiking, walking-- these are all great, but you have to do them. I prefer Morning Meltdown 100 from Beachbody because it is 100 workouts, meant to be done every day. They are 20-30 minutes long and all I have to do is hit play. No searching. No thinking. For me, it is something that I will do. If you want to try it, hop over to my Beachbody page here. Running? I can think of 1,000 reasons right now why I cant run. You have to find what is best for you. It might take trial and error, but you will figure it out. 

DO THIS: Workout first thing in the morning. If you don’t, it is very likely that you will not do it. There is research that shows that you burn more calories throughout the day if you workout in the morning, but that is not why I want you to do it then. If you wait until everyone else in the world is up, then there are going to be people and things to distract you from your goals. 

  1. Drink waterDo not drink your calories. If you get a coffee, get it black with some almond milk. If you get tea just don’t put sugar or honey in it. And very seldom (or never) drink sodas. They are terrible for your gut health and inflame your fat cells. According to Medical News.com “drinking water is a natural appetite suppressant, it increases calorie burn, it helps remove waste from the body, it can reduce overall liquid calorie intake, it is necessary to burn fat and it makes it easier to workout.” I think I can speak for everyone who has worked out after drinking a soda, or even worse alcohol. Your body needs water. It is the easiest and cheapest step in weight loss. 

DO THIS: Get a gallon jug and fill it with water. Try to drink that gallon every single day. This is more water than the recommended amount, but if you can drink this every day you will start to train yourself to drink water. You are also going to see huge improvements in the way you feel and the way your skin looks. 

  1. Manage StressThis is a whole other blog post, but you have to manage your stress or it will be almost impossible to prevent weight gain. Back to my friend JJ Virgin, “Long-term stress and lack of sleep can knock hormones like cortisol out of whack, making you feel hungrier and signaling your body to hang on to fat.” You have been there! I have seen you. You are stressed out so you go eat a candy bar or get a milkshake or ice cream, or maybe Chinese take out.. Am I right? We have all done it and the food tasted so good! It is because of the cortisol levels in our body. There are many things that you can do to reduce stress like the things I mentioned above. But there are other things like managing your time well, getting a massage, watching your favorite show on Netflix and laughing with friends that are also super effective. 

DO THIS: Workout hard for at least 20 minutes every day. It is the single most effective thing you can do to eliminate stress. The more I exercise, the less need I have to get a massage. It works for pretty much everyone.  


The issues with weight gain in college is not so much about the weight. It is more about the lifestyle that you are creating for yourself and the habits that you are setting in stone. There are also a lot of women who are super unhealthy but are skinny. The way you look on the outside is not always a clear picture of how healthy you are on the inside. 


You want to establish a healthy lifestyle for yourself while you are in college because it will only get harder when you graduate and have a full-time job. 

Now, let’s talk about loving your body at all of it’s stages…. If you hate your body and you talk ugly to your body, most likely you will not be able to lose weight. It is a mind thing that is very real. You cannot hate yourself into weight loss. Weather you are gaining weight or not, your body is a finely crafted machine that allows you to do all the things that you want to do. Love your body for what it is and what it does for you. If you struggle with positive self talk about your body start here: I love that my body is healthy. I love that I can walk to school. I love that I can eat without getting sick. I love that I have legs, etc. Start very basic. Want to take it to the next level? Look in the mirror and tell yourself, out loud, everything that you love about yourself and your body. 


Hughes, Locke. “How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body.

JJ Virgin. “5 ‘Healthy’ Habits That Seriously Stall Your Fast Fat Loss.” JJ Virgin, 9 May 2019, https://jjvirgin.com/5-healthy-habits-stall-fast-fat-loss-2/.
O'Connor, Amy, and Amy O'Connor. “70% Of Students Gain Weight During College: Study.” Health.com, 26 Sept. 2012, https://www.health.com/family/college-gain-weight.


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